Welcome to Southern Comfort!

Hi, I'm Elizabeth and I invite you to grab a glass of sweet tea and join me as I (along with my husband, John) renovate our love nest. We're both born and raised in the south and love to share with you some of our favorite recipes, stories and our life. We hope you'll come back often!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kitchen Diva Mom and Ranger Dad's Bathroom Remodel Part 1

My parents have lived in their house for 23 years. They bought it 3 weeks before my baby sister, Annie, was due. As the years have passed, they've managed to transform each room execpt for one. Their bathroom. This room is the bane of the house. It's small, hospital green, and has had more leakage in the shower pan over the years than a pregnant ladies' bladder. That's a lot of leakage people.

The shower stall was 3ft by 3ft. A closet. Typical 50's construction. Nothing of today's huge, monster spa bathrooms. While mom was pregnant with Annie, she could stand in the shower and her backside would touch one side of the shower, and her belly the other. That's tiiiiiight peeps! Heaven forbid you drop the soap.
Mom and Dad are getting towards the thoughts of retirement. Ah, the golden years. But, for them to cash in on the workforce, they first have to get this house prepared to sell. Their plans are to build a new house on some property they have on the NC coast. Since Dad has had a few extra months on his hands here recently (due to the economy downturn), they decided to go ahead and begin renovating this last space.

I knew they were starting on demo last week, but unfortunately I had to be at work. Dang how work gets in the way of so many other things. So I came over and got some pics after Dad's first day ripping things out. I just knew the whole bathroom would be torn out by the time I got there... Wrong-o. I'll give details on why later.
Just so you can get a good idea of the layout, here are a few pictures:
The room itself:

The shower:

Ceiling of the shower:

(sorry for the horrible pic, I only had my cell with me)

Look at all that head room up there!
Ok, so now on why it took so long for the demo. Behind all the lovely tile, was 4 inches of cement. 4 inches people. This place was a bombshell. We could have survived a nuclear blast in this thing! After working all day on demo, this was all dad was able to tear out. The shower walls. That's it. It took so much more strength and sheer pounding with a sledge hammer than anyone thought. If he had any frustrations, they are gone now. Just to put this into perspective for you. For every 10 swings of the sledgehammer = only a few cracks in the tile. It took brut force. Luckily, Army Dad has it. It took a while, but he was able to get the bathroom demo'd by the end of the week.

Of course with any demo project on an older home you run into some unexpected details. Like the fact that there was NO insulation behind the wire mesh. None. Zippo. Makes perfect sense why their bathroom has been frigid in the winter for all these years.
After ripping out the floor of the shower, we discovered some rotten wood that would need replacing as well. This is no huge surprise with how many problems they've been having with their leaking. After further investigation, it was discovered that the builders of the house didn't put down the necessary foundation for the shower pan. After years of use, the foundation had settled and created divots running through the space. It looked like a tiny little grand canyon right under our feet. No wonder all the tile was cracking around it. The shower pan had nothing to keep it from moving around.

What burns me up is this: over the past 10 years, that particular shower has been *fixed* 3 times. By "professionals". 3 times it's been torn out, replaced and *fixed*. Apparently the workers didn't want to take the extra step to find out what was causing the problem in the first place. They'd rather take the easy route, tear out the ugly part and replace it. Sure it makes it look pretty for a few months, but then the tile started breaking.. again. Might I mention that this was while I was in high school and not only did I have to share my bathroom with my sister, but now, with Mom and Dad too!?! Oh lord. There may have been a few instances of toothpaste fights. Maybe.

Well, never again.

After Dad's hard work last week, here's the bathroom after the demo:

That's right. Out the window people. In true Dad fashion.
Stay tuned for more as this project continues...

Friday, March 26, 2010

So Lumber Liquidators was having a sale....

We typically aren't impulsive people. Wait. Let me back up. We aren't implusive buyers. We are very impulsive about home projects. There's a difference. The only problem is, today, the two collided.

John and I had planned on going to look at some laminate flooring today since he was off work. So we met there. Problem #1 we had two cars available. Should have seen that coming. Then we walked through the doors and the floors began speaking to me. Calling my name. Problem #2. Then the drooling began. 20 minutes, yes 20 minutes later we were the proud owners of our very own (and beautiful!) flooring. All 35 boxes of it (and 3 rolls of underlayment and 200 sqft of quarter-round for our entire downstairs). And Driving away.

The poor Camry. Didn't even see it coming.

John's Car

We use our cars. Every inch of them. We need something bigger I think..

So what did you spend your Friday evening doing?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

spreading the challenge love

A couple weeks ago, one of my favorite friends in the world (Hey Amanda!!) sent me some pictures of her fabulous drab to fab project. Don't we all looooove before and afters? Yeah we do! But we love them even mooooore when they're done for $5 or less! Amanda never ceases to amaze me at her creative ability.

She and her hubs just bought a fabulous new townhome and needed a little place to store keys, scarves and the occasional honey-do lists love note.

And here, is her project:
Taking this:

And turing it into this:

Fabulous right? So here's how she did it:
chalkboard/corkblard/key storage - free
Gel stain and sandpaper - free
chalk - $1
new knobs - $1

Sanded and ready for stain
First coat of stain

second coat of stain, boy it really makes all the difference!

And Voila!

 With a little elbow grease, the help of some sandpaper, and the magic of some new stain, we have a fabulous new message center privy of being in any new home.. or new-to-you home :) Since Amanda hadn't moved yet when she sent me this picture, these pictures were taken right after the makeover. Once she gets settled, I'll get updated pictures of it in its new space and we can oooh and ahhh all over again. Capishe? Awesome.
Great job Mander, and I can't w.a.i.t. to see the new diggs. I'm sure it's just gorgeous.  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

$5 Challenge!

Its' here! Today's the day!

For everyone visiting, thanks for coming by. As you all remember I decided to take part in Living With Lindsay's $5 Spring Challenge.

The official rules were:
Only use items from The Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, Dollar Spot at Target and the like. You can use whatever you have on hand at home to make a Spring decor item for your home.

So here goes.
I bought some speckled eggs and some dried spanish moss from the dollar store for 2 buckeroos.
I used glitter, eggs from the fridge, an egg decorator kit I found in my craft closet from a couple years ago, my favorite cake plate, and some ribbon I already had on hand.

So for 3.47 (including price of real eggs) I created a look that suites Easter and Spring just right. I love how it looks like a terrarrium, and makes our kitchen pop with a little unexpected color. Not to mention with the lid on it, there's a certain kitty who can't bother it. Believe me, she tried while I was putting it together. She ate and picked at like 1/2 the bag of moss, which I had to chase across the floor later.

If you want to see other projects that are for Lindsay's Challenge check them out HERE

So what do you think? Good job? Bad job? Anything you would change? I can always use suggestions.
Did y'all catch those awesome sillouettes in the background of Maggie and Pickle? Love them!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back Deck: Accomplished!

I know, It's been a long time coming. But here it is. Finally. But I can't give out all the goods too quickly can I? So let me give you the full run-down.
Friday night after work John and I headed to Lowes for our "date-night". After lots of research and talking with my cousin Allyson and her hubby Benny from Living Green, Saving Green we were fully-knowledged on how to tackle this bad-boy.  Benny works at Benjamin Moore and he was such a great resource to learn from. From what Benny said, we needed a semi-transparent, semi-solid stain for the best UV protection and weather seal for our pressure treated wood. He recommended Cabot, a well-known company for excellent results. It is a little more expensive, but it seals so well that you don't have to re-apply yearly. It can last us up to 3 years of protection. Umm... SOLD! We prepped the deck last weekend which I posted about HERE, but I did go the extra step of vacuuming it off before we skipped, ran, headed to Lowes.

I let John pick out the color. I figured since this was considered "man-land" he should do the honors. Let me just say, I Looooove it. He did such a great job picking it out! It's called New Redwood.
I had mentioned in my previous post about loving the look of white spindles, and yes, I still adore them. But for all the work we were going to have to put into our deck already, we decided against the two-tone look. It would have cost us a lot more money to buy the extra paint, and to tape off each one would have just put me over the top.
On Saturday morning we got up bright and early. It was a little like Christmas. We knew we could FINALLY get started on this long awaited project.
We laid out all our supplies:

When you go to pour your paint (for any project) puncture holes in the rim of the paint can. This allows for excess paint to drip back into the can instead of puddling and spilling over the edge. A trick my Dad taught me. It works. Every. Single. Time.

If you do this project, be sure to buy a roller made for decking. It has a much longer knapp to really get down into the cracks and crevices of the deck. It also holds a lot of stain, wich meant fewer trips to the pan.

Let me say, this project took TONS more stain than we thought it would. We only bought one gallon since the coverage was approx. 750 sq. ft. One gallon only got us 1/2 way through the job. We began with the railings (working top to bottom). Then headed to the spindles, and finally the deck floor. The floor took 1 gallon itself. Wowza. So I am proud to say, it only took ONE trip back to the hardware store to finish the project :) If you know my family, this is a major accomplishment.

If you remember, this is what our deck looked like before: (warning, picture overload)

Maggie posing :)

Now, after lots of painting:

We Looooove it. It's perfect for all those summer parties. We are going to so enjoy this space.

I know you're wondering about this part of our deck:

Yes, we have plans for it too. Since it's an older deck, we've decided to tear it up and replace it with stone pavers. Of course this won't happen for some time, but we do have plans for it. Just so you know we haven't forgotten about it.

Do you have plans to do anything like this to your house? Do you think we did a good job? What would you change? I love reading each and every comment, so always, leave the love!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Home Depot Weekend Deal!

I  wanted to give y'all a heads up: Home Depot started their Black Friday in March today and they have some great deals if you’re itching to get outside and plant! Spring is officially here this weekend, thank goodness. I love seeing signs everywhere that winter is coming to a close: Here are some garden deals in North Carolina (check your local store):
* 6 pack annuals are B1G1 = .89 each
* 2 cu. ft bag of mulch are B1G1 = $1.15 each
* All seed packets are B1G1 free
* 4" ground covers are $1.50 each
* Quart perennials are $2.50 each
* Garden tools are .99 each
*Garden gloves are $1.00
*Scotts Moisture Advantage Potting Soil is $6.97 for 2 cu.ft

I don't know about y'all, but since John and I have a date planned for tonight anyways (ahem, buying and prepping everything for our deck project to start early in the am) I think we're just going to have to have a look-see at the local H.D. for some goodies. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!
Oh, and P.S. Tomorrow night (Saturday) Grab your binoculars. The crescent Moon and the Pleiades star cluster are gathering for a beautiful close encounter on the first night of northern Spring. Since the weather is going to be perfect for viewing this would be a great thing for the kiddos (heck, me) to see! I know, I'm a dork. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Over Acheiver

Remember the other day when I said we actually did more than just the deck cleaning? Well, we did. After we played all weekend in the gorgeous weather. But I promise we'll get to the deck this weekend. Really. Dont' believe me? Fine. Cross-my-heart-hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye promise to get it done.

Anyways. Last Sunday night, around 7:30 I decided to get busy on another project. I was hoping to get it done and finished BEFORE Desperate Housewives came on (love that show!). I ran a few minutes late, but that's ok becuase then I could fast-forward through the commercials. John taught me that. Love that boy. :)

Our "drop zone" is the kitchen. We have 2 designated drawers in our kitchen island (which you can see here) as "his" and "hers" mail drops. This catches mail, junk mail, bills, stamps, cards, tape, pens, reciepts, dog treats, cat treats, loose change and sometimes sharp objects that scare us from time to time. Do you have a place like that in your house? Don't be confused, this is not our junk drawer. That's in another place in the (of course) kitchen.

After paying bills and such from these drawers we take the piles of stuff and file everything upstairs. This system has NOT been working for us in the past. What was my clue? When I walked into our office and this is what the desk looks like.
All our files. Not filed. Just plopped.
Sure, we already had a file cabinet, but it didn't spark our interest to open the drawer to actually put things away. See? Doesn't really make you want to file does it? Nope. Not a smidge.

 So I went to Office Max with John and (yes, with his approval) I bought these:
Actually, I bought 2 packs of these folders and 1 pack of the matching hanging file folders. Here's my logic:
If I could make a very organized, energetic, easy-to-use place to file all these filings, then MAYBE there'd be a chance that we would USE it. Now that we own a house and are married, there's no reason for us to not be adults and keep things neat. We are BOTH guilty. Everyone hates putting things away. I HATE putting away clean dishes from the dishwasher. I HATE putting away clean and folded clothes. I have no problem loading the washing machine or the dishwasher, but when it comes time to finish the job. It sits. Until something else that's dirty needs to go in. Soooo. Here we are. We're both guilty.

we did have some help cleaning out:
Hehe. Cute Lil' Pickle

And here it is after 2 trashbags of trash and shredded documents, new prettier file folders, labeled and organized:
See? Prettier.

See? isn't that better? Now, I will make more of an effor to use the system and keep things as neat and tidy as possible. :) Now, onto the rest of this space...

And because we all love a before and after:

P.S. I love my Label Maker. It's a Dymo I bought from Walmart in college.  I use it for everything. You should consider getting one. Really.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Liar Liar

Ok. I lied.
The weather this weekend was GORG. We totally could have stained the deck (well, maybe not because of a Saturday night shower). But we could have done A TON more than we actually did.
Waking up Saturday morning to the bright blue sky, the singing birds, and a black puppy (who is nearly 4 yrs old, but that will still count as puppy right? I Thought so)  whose bladder was about to explode was just the thing I needed to get me outside.
So we played, and played, and played.

I did manage to get out the hose and the clorox cleaner and sprayed down and scrubbed the deck in preparation for the big stain/paint/seal project. I must say, I wasn't too impressed. This is what I used:

I was disappointed. In the past when I've used these products that attach to the hose they have a small enough spout that the water really comes out turning it into a pressure washer/ cleaner. This is great for siding and windows. But I found that it just didn't clean well. The water pressure was OK, but didn't nearly get all the gunkies and globbies (yes, those are actual words) out of the cracks.  We had some mold that was starting to grow on the spindles of the deck that we had to hand scrub off, but even then I wasn't impressed with it's cleaning power. So after about an hour of us both scrubbing, sweating, and scrubbing some more, we decided to let the stuff sit. We didn't scrub it off. We'll let mother nature do that for us since it's supposed to shower this week. And hopefully the cleaning power will continue to work.

Last year when John and I were planning our wedding, my Dad had a super duper job of cleaning up the yard for our recpetion. The car-port was transformed into the buffet line for food, but to get there a lot of scrubbing and painting needed to take place. He introduced this stuff: to me:

I pink puffy heart me some JoMax. This stuff is the ticket. I should have bought some for our project. It destroys mold, mildew, grime and ickyness from your house. Trust me. I know. I'm the one who buys new cleaners because I think it's fun to clean. Yes, I know how that sounds to most people. Most of you want to gag me. It's been tried. I've come to terms with it as an illness. I get it from my Grandfather on my Dad's side. So at least it runs in the family. Anyways,

Sure the Clorox did a well enough job on the deck. We *probably* won't have to re-prep the deck. But only this week will tell. If it doesn't hold, I'll be on my wagon first thing after work on Thursday to buy some JoMax to get the job done (prepped, dried and ready) so we can get to work on Saturday to *hopefully keepyourfingerscrossed get this project under way*

No, that's not all we got done over the entire weekend, but I've got to save some posts for later in the week right? Check back to see me squeal with delight over another super simple project!

Do you have any tips for our deck project? Maybe you've done one or two? What about your favorite cleaners for certain jobs? I'd love to hear all the dirt! (no pun intended.. well, maybe) :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

Patience may be a virtue. But not for me. If you know me, you already know this. I am very type A about many things. My home improvement projects are no exception. Once I plan a project I'm ready for it. Like RIGHT NOW ready for it. Let's skip work, go to Lowes and get started letsgetitdonenow type of attitude. This does NOT work for reality. Damn.

So, yes, We had planned on getting our deck stained, painted and completed this weekend. But alas, mother nature has different plans. Rain. All rain for the next 3 days. Definately not the time to try an outdoor project.
So here we go, plan B.
Yes, I have a plan B.
I always have a plan B.
There is always something planned for the house. Inside or out. John would prefer to enjoy a day of rest. Sleeping. Watching TV from shows we've DVR'd. But I don't let that happen. Or, ahem, let me clarify. I'll start on a project while he's trying to relax, and once he hears me moving things around, pulling out the power tools and such he's up. Investigating.  Whether it's a fear that I'm going to kill or hurt myself, screw up the house or break something who knows. ;) He can't relax knowing I'm up to something. Yes, he did marry me knowing this.

So yes, tomorrow. Rain or shine. We will be working on the house. I'll fill you in later on what we tackle. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Weekend Project: Back Deck

Last summer when we bought our house the previous owner has just installed a new back deck. It was so new it hadn't been sealed or painted yet.
It's been nearly 9 months and we've weathered countless rainstorms, several snowstorms and full sunlight all day since it was built. It needs to be sealed or painted. Pronto.

These are the realtor pictures, we still don't have any furniture out there. Hopefully we can remedy that this spring. But it will make painting so much easier with nothing to move but the grill :)

These are a few pictures of some decks we LOVE and want to mimic the look of.

I love the look of the white railings. It may take more work, but I'm willing to do it.
This week we are soaking up as much knowledge we can to get prepared for this project. Friday night is date night at Lowe's to pick out our stain and paint.
Stay tuned as we embark into yet another DIY project. Let's hope the weather holds!
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